She came: She saw: She laid down the law to the most powerful, touchy, potentially dangerous nation on the planet – and then she waltzed off, leaving chaos in her wake – and costing the American taxpayer $2 - 5 million to do it.
That was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “contribution” to human rights, the promotion of democracy and world peace – at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Astana, Kazakhstan last week.
She didn’t exactly do much for the national security of the United States either.
The omens for the summit weren’t great. Hillary flew in right after being humiliated as no American secretary of state has ever been while in office by the gigantic WikiLeaks fiasco.
And then she had the gall to lecture all the other OSCE states on how America’s “open diplomacy” was a model they all had to follow as well. Yeah, after Wikileaks they must sure have been impressed by that.
Hillary also brought no less than 200 State Department diplomats with her. Assume at least $2,000 per head in civilian air fares or their equivalent to get them there. Factor in luxurious hotel accommodation for three or four nights per head at $200 to $500 per head a night, and see what that mounts up to. And you haven’t factored in all the expense account dining at all the best restaurants in the most stunning new city in Central Asia.
Most Americans haven’t heard of the 56-nation OSCE: We’ve basically used it as a platform to promote human rights and democracy throughout former Soviet Eastern Europe and Asia. That’s a policy both Republican and Democratic administrations in Washington have agreed on.
Over the past year, the Russians have been making a strong pitch to switch the direction of the OSCE to fighting drug trafficking, human trafficking – which basically means enslaving young women and even children as working slaves and prostitutes, and international terrorism, especially of the extreme Islamist kind, all over Eurasia. Not surprisingly, we believe in that too.
The Russians wanted, however, to overhaul the OSCE to make it a much more integrated body to work with more effectiveness against these problems. The Obama administration feared that this would either deliver the OSCE into the hands of the Russians, or neuter it as a platform for promoting human rights. So Secretary Clinton blocked the move.
In fact, of course, there’s room to both continue promoting human rights and democracy and to fight against drug trafficking and international sex-trafficking. There isn’t much dignity of life for any enslaved 10 or 12 year old child who’s forced to be a sex slave in Kenya, the Persian Gulf or Thailand. Clinton’s veto effectively blocked progress in fighting that scourge across international borders. Not much promotion of human rights and individual dignity for sex slaves there.
Even more dangerously, she ticked off the Russians. And that is no small thing.
Russia remains the second most powerful – arguably in terms of effective delivery systems now the way most powerful – nuclear military power on the planet.
It’s often said the Russian army is undermanned, woefully under-equipped and ill disciplined and all of that is true.
But the 27 nations of the European Union apart from the very small British and French nuclear arsenals and tiny conventional militaries effectively have no independent military capability at all, while ours is now bogged down still in Iraq, increasingly in Afghanistan (Thank you, President Obama) and may have to fight a full scale war to defend South Korea against North Korea tomorrow.
In other words, if the Russians turn mean and start threatening weak, defenseless U.S. allies like the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, or Georgia, where we have wildly over-committed ourselves in Russia’s historic back yard for the past 200 years, there really isn’t much we could do about it.
Secretary Clinton humiliated the Russians at the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan last Wednesday. She rubbed their noses in it. Then she never even bothered waiting for a reply from them. She waltzed off to spend the next day looking macho visiting our troops at the U.S. Air Force run-Manas air base in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
No doubt those pictures will look good when she runs for the presidency again in a couple of years against Obama when the Divine One’s polices have brought unemployment to 25 percent and sent inflation spiraling into the double-digits and beyond. (Jimmy Carter, we miss you after all.)
In fact, it’s routine behavior for Very Important Persons like Secretary Clinton to deliver their keynote addresses at multilateral forums like the Astana summit and then dash off to do the Really Important Things that matter to them. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany for example, did the same thing.
But then Chancellor Merkel hadn’t just bothered mortally insulting the Russians.
Now the Drive Bys have just told the American people that at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal a couple of weeks ago, the Divine One did his Neville Chamberlain thing and established Peace in Our Time with the Russians, assuring a generation of close cooperation between them, the U.S. and NATO.
In reality, however, Lisbon was a typical Obama empty "feel good" bag of hot air.
Why do I say that? Because Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said it in his annual national “state of the union” address to the Russian people last Tuesday (Nov 30).
Right after getting back from Lisbon and just before he flew to Astana to be insulted by Hillary Clinton, Medvedev said Lisbon would be empty unless the U.S. and NATO followed it up
Medvedev in fact was very specific in his demands about getting Russia brought to an integrated command on missile defense and many other things. Following up on specifics in foreign policy and nationals security is not Obama's forte -- or Hillary's.
The Russians reacted immediately to Hillary’s insult at the Astana summit: The OSCE, the U.S. and most others were confident an Action Plan to guide the OSCE and the nations of Europe and Northern Asia through another generation of peaceful cooperation would be confirmed on Thursday, Dec. 2 on the second day of the summit.
Instead, the Russians retaliated by torpedoing the entire Action Plan. They even blocked any anodyne mention of Georgia, Transdniestr or Nagorno-Karabakh in the summit’s Final Document. Those are the three regions of Europe where the Russians have set up breakaway states to destabilize small weak former Soviet republics who now want to draw closer to the West.
Look for all those conflicts to heat up now -- especially Georgia, which is immensely dangerous. It really could pull the United States into a military confrontation with Russia -- and we are committed to its fiery and unpredictable leader President Mikheil Saakashvili who is the ultimate loose cannon.
Nobody paid any attention to this summit but it's the most important one we've had in 25 years since Ronald Reagan and Mikheil Gorbachev broke the ice between them in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986.
Reagan, negotiating with restraint and strength -- and treating the Soviet president in private and public with individual courtesy, acting as a gentleman, thereby laid the foundation for the collapse of communism and for a generation of peace, security and the spread of real democracy and human rights across Eurasia.
What do you think Hillary Clinton sowed the seeds of in Astana last week?
You won’t have to wait long to find out.
Martin Sieff is the former Managing Editor, International Affairs for United Press International and the author of (among other things) “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East” (2008).